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Moldovan Christians ask for continued prayers following riots


CHISINAU, Moldova (BP) — An uneasy calm has continued over the capital city here following rioting early last month, but the head of the Moldova Baptist Union is asking for Christians around the world to continue to pray for the country.

Joe Westbury/Index

Carole Shupe, a nurse and member of First Blairsville, assists a Moldova resident through a free medical clinic sponsored by the Sons of Jubal in May 2004. Recent rioting in the country’s capital has garnered the attention of Georgia Baptists, who had a missions partnership with the European country from 2000-2008.

“The street protests calmed down today,” wrote Valeriu Ghiletchi in an email April 8. “Police arrested about 200 people last night.”

Ghiletchi went on to say about 3,000 people rioted during the day and 5,000 that night.

“The bad news is that the president accused Romania and the leaders of opposition parties for organizing the riots,” he wrote, “which creates a lot of tension in the society.”

The Georgia Baptist Convention recently concluded an eight-year partnership with Moldova that began in 2000.

“During the riots, people were encouraged to not go into the streets,” said GBC Missions Volunteers Specialist Mike Gravette, who has stayed in consistent email contact with Ghiletchi. “The ministry there continues on a regular basis.”

When results were announced April 6, people began to peacefully protest the previous day’s election as fraudulent, reported Baptist Press. Through Twitter, the call went out for more protesters, and more than 10,000 people gathered in Chisinau.

By noon some of the protestors became violent, throwing rocks through windows in the presidential building and setting fires. Some leaders of opposition parties tried to quiet the protesters and prevent the riots, but they were unsuccessful.

Fights broke out between the police and protestors and at least one protestor died. The government shut down Facebook and Twitter, which at that time been many people’s primary sources of news.

Moldovan Christians observed a day of prayer and fasting April 10.

One of the concerns of the evangelical churches in Moldova is that they will be blamed for the riots and their religious freedoms will be limited.

One Moldovan Christian wrote in an email obtained by the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, “Many of the Christians look at the recent events with despair. The events of the week will be remembered as riots, the communist party will punish those who played a part, or at least those who look the part.

“And within a few weeks all this will be but a memory, with a mild, lingering fear and the repercussions of more media censorship and the promulgation of lies.”

That fear increased when the government shut down the Internet for two days.

Moldpres, the country’s state news agency, reported April 25 that President Vladimir Voronin was handed the mandate of lawmaker by the parliament. In a speech, he thanked the Central Election Commission for having ensured a balloting process he deemed “one of the best organized in Moldova’s history.”

Voronin and the ruling Communist Party’s victory was captured with just more than half of the vote, with 60 seats in the 101-member parliament, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a collection of journalists covering 20 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

Opposition groups had claimed the problem was with the actual voting procedures and that a recount would not yield more accurate results. Their concern was fraud with voters’ lists, which they said contained the names of dead voters as well as Moldovans not living in the country.